Outdoor Fabric News

Well, I decided to sort of recycle a few columns about outdoor cushion fabric. There are some new things on the market, and some old things made better so here is the update. The biggest one, for me, is the UV sprays. The old ones really didn’t work at all. The newer ones seem to be actually doing some good.

I keep reading about one, the Scotchguard© Outdoor Water and Sun Shield spray. Yellow label, available at Canadian Tire. Well, this morning it’s available.

These protectants need to be re-applied after heavy rain, after washing the covers, or after six months. ( Check the label on the product.)

Fade/UV resistance: Outdoor fabrics are typically designed to resist fading caused by exposure to sunlight and other outdoor elements, ensuring that they will maintain their vibrant color for years to come. Fade-resistant fabrics may be made with UV-resistant fibers or treated with special coatings or finishes that protect against sun damage. The sun damages fibers. UV (UVA) exposure can cause your fabric to disintegrate after one season. I’ve seen it. The solution-dyed acrylics are almost impervious to this fading and disintegration. 

Don’t fool yourself by thinking that, ‘Well, it’s northern exposure with an overhang and it doesn’t get direct sun so it won’t fade’. This is a piece of cotton left under a north-facing window sill for one day. There was an overhang over the window and no direct sun hit this fabric.

welt cord sun fade

Sunbrella is the gold standard here, and they even offer a guarantee on their fabric. Remember that just because a fabric is marked ‘outdoor’ doesn’t mean it is, there are no internationally regulated standards here. If it doesn’t list things like rubs, or light hours, it probably isn’t outdoor fabric. (Light hours are the number of sunlight hours the fabric can withstand before fading starts.)

Durability: Outdoor fabrics are designed to be extremely durable and able to withstand the harsh conditions of the outdoors. These fabrics are typically made from synthetic fibers such as polyester, nylon, or acrylic, with solution-dyed acrylic being the gold standard. And you pay for that.

The better outdoor fabrics will list the number of rubs the fabric can withstand before deterioration starts. You’ve seen this in IKEA — the ‘Frungle’ chair in the glass case with the test ‘seat’ sitting down and getting up. A single rub is sitting down, a double rub is sitting down and then getting up. Heavy-duty fabric requires at least 15,000 double rubs.

Water resistance: Outdoor fabrics are often treated with a water-resistant coating, which helps to repel water and prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

The important thing here is water resistance, not waterproof. It’s essential that water be allowed to flow through the pieces, not be trapped anywhere. This means no glue is used on the dacron wrap inside the cushion, for example. The glue traps water. It also means outdoor cushions need plastic zippers, not metal. For obvious reasons.

DriFast foam

A good visual of why you want moisture to pass through. Think of having that sit inside your cushion..

Breathability fits in here. If the fabric doesn’t allow air to move through, you will have mold and mildew issues. Now, if you want water PROOF, you need to have all the seams sealed, the zippers sealed, and the fabric totally waterproof; it doesn’t allow any water to transfer through. That’s different than water-resistant. 

Stain resistance: Outdoor fabrics are often treated with a stain-resistant coating, which helps to repel spills and stains and make the fabric easier to clean. Stain-resistant coatings create a barrier that prevents stains from penetrating the fabric, making it easier to clean and maintain. They will give you time to get into the house and get some paper towels. You can easily up the stain-repellent properties of your outdoor fabric with a spray-on product. Again, Scotchguard© has a few that work well. Just remember to re-apply after cleaning or heavy rain.

sunfaded chair

This is sunfade. You can’t dye over it, so don’t even think about that.

There you go.

And.. If you’d like a copy of my ebook ‘New Cushion Covers, all you need to know’ Click on that annoying popup and you’ll get a copy right back.

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